The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

Category: Social Sciences
Author: Gavin De Becker
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by exfamilia   2019-08-24

From what you've said above, you went with your instincts, and your instincts were right. You may not have had the language to articulate what was happening, but you could feel something was and you could acted on it when it made you uncomfortable. That is a life-saving reaction.

In case you've never heard of it, let me recommend a book called "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker. He is a security expert, and he travels to schools and colleges now talking especially to girls. He explains when and why to trust your instinct and how to keep yourself safe from predators. It's really eye-opening stuff, and much of it is very simple, we just need to hear it explained to recognise a lot of situations we've all been in.

This is a link to the book on Amazon, and it has a "Look Inside" option.
And this is a link to his website.

I recommend this to all women, especially young women, it can literally save lives. Frankly I'd be more comfortable getting this kind of information from a woman, but this is a very rare man, and I trust his advice a lot. If you get something from it, talk to your friends about it, we need to spread this kind of education widely.

Good luck. And bless that 13-y-o girl still inside you—she kept you safe, even when she didn't fully understand what was happening. That's praise-worthy.

by canadacass   2019-08-24

I'm going to give you a reading list. He gives some good tips on what to look for and how to speak up for yourself.

Eg. if a man is walking toward you or insists on helping you carry your grocery bags, the author tells you what to do and how to set your boundaries. A normal man will listen to those boundaries, a predator will keep insisting.

If you notice someone stalking you, you can also ask a security guard or an employee to walk you to your car.

You can also partner up with another woman/mother with kids. safety in numbers.

If it was me I would probably tell him off, but that assertiveness is a skill it can take some time to acquire and feel comfortable using.



by Daleth2   2019-08-24

See if you can find this book at your library, or if not order it. Multiple people have told me it saved their lives. I gave it to a friend who was divorcing an abuser. It's amazing, and it has a lot of very practical tips on what to do:

by Fatcatbellies   2019-07-21

by Fey_fox   2019-07-21

I'm sorry that happened to you. You're lucky you found out this quickly, some people get lied to for much longer than that.

It's completely ok to want to be single for a while after this. You're just beginning in the world, so there's no need to rush into anything. If you decide after a while that you do want to date again, I would say stick to guys no more than 3 years or so older than you until you're past 25 (a rough guideline more than a rule). The reason I'm suggesting that is because young adults are still rapidly changing as you finish puberty and are starting to learn how to function as an adult. It's good to be with someone who's going through the same life stage that you are. The older you get the less years matter as much (although you may want to keep it in the same decade... maybe).

There's a book I like to suggest to all young people, especially young women called The Gift of Fear. It talks not only about how to protect yourself from violence, but how to identify manipulative, abusive behaviors, and red flags. It's an easy read, and available as an audio book too. I'm suggesting this especially because it sounds like he was gasslighting you when he was trying to flip the blame back on you when you accused him of lying. I'd bet money that wasn't the first time he pulled that behavior.

I'm an older lady. Not all dudes are manipulative assholes like your ex. Give yourself time to process this, and when you are ready to date again, try not to bring the baggage this last guy gave you into your new relationship. It wouldn't be cool if that dude's legacy of toxic crap poisoned your next relationship

by Fey_fox   2019-07-21

YTA, but well intentioned.

In the comments you said you’ve been gentle and supportive in the past. It’s hard to watch someone you care about stay and return to an abusive relationship, and I get why you snapped.

Sometimes the best way we can be a friend is to be straight with them. How you spoke to her was harsh and could have been better worded. However I don’t think you were wrong in calling her out and pointing out she was repeating an abusive pattern.

I would strongly recommend you get this book for yourself and one for your friend. Lots of very smart people get sucked into abusive relationships. It can happen to anybody, because it doesn’t happen overnight. People who abuse can be loving, charming, kind at times. If a person only caused pain nobody would be with them. By learning how to recognize red flags early and by listening to our instincts we can better protect ourselves.

You can call people out without putting them down. I think you should apologize for calling her stupid, but stick to your guns about how you feel and how you’ve seen this happen far too often. Sometimes we gotta be the canary in the coal mine for the people we love.

Good luck

by Fey_fox   2019-07-21

There’s a book called The Gift of Fear that goes into detail about how to identify and protect yourself from violence. It’s an easy read & what you’re talking about is one of the things that’s covered.

by T-Baaller   2019-07-21

i got u fam

by op_249   2019-07-21

I would also recommend a copy of the gift of fear

by savvyjiuju   2019-07-21

Of course I can't know anyone else's thought process, but I would be less inclined to advocate for fighting back or pursuing legal action in a situation like this because a) it's a much more complex situation and there are more details that I can't know than in a case of less-severe harassment, b) in a more severe case like this, clear thinking is made more difficult by the kind of traumatic emotions that validation and compassion (e.g. "Sorry for your loss") can help assuage, and c) in a more severe, more complex situation, there is a very real risk that the violent party will commit a more serious act of violence when the abused attempts to fight back or leave (Citation here, 10th bullet point under "Domestic Violence Victims". This statistic is corroborated elsewhere as well.). Despite the warped thinking of trauma, the abused person knows their situation best and is best able to determine what action is safe to take. Gavin de Becker has made this point, as well.

In my opinion, the most responsible way to help create the best outcome for the victim and those around them is to offer a calming, compassionate response that can help them think more clearly about their own situation. That's what gave me the confidence to leave my own abusive situation. No amount of advice is more powerful than that clear thinking. Unfortunately, advice given in the absence of full details can backfire, feeding into a loop of "This person doesn't understand my situation, so I can't trust that their advice will apply."

I don't want to say that you're wrong to be concerned in the way that you are. You are absolutely right to be so concerned. But I'm concerned, as well, that the adversarial tone that came across in your original comment can contribute to that backfiring I just mentioned and detract from the victim's progress towards clearer thinking. Insofar as she needs us, she needs us to be careful in our efforts to help.

by Koriandersalamander   2019-07-21

Just wanted to reach out and say you're not alone. I've been in the same situation since what feels like early childhood. Even once the fog lifted and I escaped my family of origin, I was still trapped in the same behavioral patterns I'd been taught, and so still attracting narcs; looking back at past friendships has been equally eye-opening and appalling. Working hard on myself atm via therapy and education to figure out how to stop this pattern - it's gotten easier, but I think it will always be a work in progress. Two things which helped the most so far:

1) Learning not to ignore my own gut feelings telling me that something's off, or that someone's actions don't match what they claim about themselves. Being rbn, we're taught to do this from birth so our nparents' delusions could always be reinforced, and their behavior always excused; so their ego is always gratified, and they're never held accountable for their own actions. (For a lot of us, in fact, we were taught to believe their behavior was our fault, and their problems were our job to fix even as children, so we learned to always doubt and blame ourselves instead of placing the responsibility where it belonged.) But those gut feelings exist for a very good reason - even if we can't put the why of them into words, or even quite make sense of them to ourselves just yet, your gut is your most valuable early warning system. Respect it; it's trying to help. It's always a signal for us to step back, think critically, and ask some difficult questions.


2) I had to learn to stop automatically blaming myself for being "so stupid" or "so spineless" or even "deserving" poor treatment; this is related to the above in re: accepting responsibility for others' behavior. Yes, we do need to be more assertive in protecting our boundaries - but everyone is solely accountable for their own choices, including narcs: you can't "make" anyone abuse you. That was always their own decision, it was never okay no matter what "reason" they gave, and we shouldn't accept the blame for their actions or feel guilty for "letting them" hurt us.

There have been a lot of resources I've found which have also helped me immensely, so at the risk of being spammy, here are some links:

Out of the Fog: (understanding the common behaviors in abusive personality disorders and staying sane despite them)

Issendai's Down the Rabbithole: (understanding the dynamic of abusive parents and adult children, and why escaping them is not only justified but often the only way to heal)

Pete Walker: (the symptoms of C-PTSD and strategies for managing them)

The Karpman Drama Triangle: (the dynamics of the abuse cycle and how it often determines the 'role' we play in it)

and two books:

Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear:

Nina W. Brown's Children of the Self-Absorbed:

All best wishes to you. Stay strong. You deserve a life free from abuse, and filled with all the love, health, and happiness which should have always been yours. Hugs if you want them, and much <3.

by Fey_fox   2019-07-21

So in your post you list a bunch of external things. It’s good you’ve been working on yourself, but how you looks and physical fitness, your smarts, your job, are all good things to work on, but they’re not directly related to your feelings. You can be the most physically fit financially successful and most charismatic man in all the land… but that doesn’t mean you’re also not an emotional hot mess.

It sounds to me you gotta dig through your baggage and do some self work on the inside. It sounds like you went through some shit and it’s probably connected to some other shit and you need to do the emotional work to find out why you keep beating yourself up and look at your patterns of behavior to see what you’re not seeing or why you stayed in an abusive relationship. This is hard work. It’s easier to focus on the surface than face our emotions, but it’s the most effective way to heal and learn from past mistakes.

Btw there isn’t a solution or formula that will make you the perfect man that any woman would be a fool to leave. All women are different and want different things and have different desires. It sounds like you don’t see women as people almost. I dunno. Maybe that’s related to partly why you haven’t let go of your past relationship and moved forward.

Since you were in an abusive relationship. I’ll suggest you check out The Gift of Fear. . Its got some good information on why we miss abusive warning signs early in relationships and how to spot them and listen to ourselves. It is more skewed towards women but the information applies to anybody. It’s an interesting easy read too.

You don’t sound pathetic at all. You sound like a dude dealing with some shit and we all gotta deal with shit now and then. Therapy would be a good idea because you can’t see your way out of your own head. An unbiased third party can be helpful in getting ourselves sorted.

by Fey_fox   2019-01-13

There’s a book I like to suggest to young women called The Gift of Fear that goes into how to recognize and avoid violence. It helps in pointing out subtle signs of abuse, discusses how to survive violent situations, and basically the book gives permission to trust your instincts. I know that the last bit sounds like a big bag of duh, but people (not just women) do it all the time. Things happen, often starting out with just words and moving to small gestures that indicate that this person has less respect that could later lead to harmful intent. It won’t be known for sure but it’s safer not to write the behavior off and not to self doubt.

We wouldn’t be hearing from OP if all he did was pull on her hair while going home. She said the choking thing was a first, but how many other things weren’t? We don’t know if there were other attempts at gaslighting or pushing or other things he’s done to whittle away her power and create dependency. For OP, this is a shock, because like many of us she may have chosen to write off the subtle minor behavior that lead up to this. I’m not blaming her for this to be clear, just acknowledging how people find themselves in abusive situations. “They were just X (drunk, having s bad day, etc.)” “They didn’t mean it and apologized” “I made them feel that way so I deserved it”. Etc etc. violence escalates, sometimes just through words. It’s very rare that a person can conceal their feelings to control and punish. For OP the sign she gave us here was hair pulling, coupled with his silence. She footnotes that like it wasn’t a big deal, but to me that behavior alone is a dumpable offense. That shit isn’t normal. That’s not appropriate behavior for anyone, and inexcusable in adults (unless it’s discussed beforehand, is consensual, and everyone is having fun with it, I ain’t forgetting you kinksters). The choking is a nuke from orbit offense, a go to the hospital and cops offense. That’s a line that should not be crossed, because now it’s something he knows he can get away with it OP doesn’t leave. Next time could be the last time.

Op get the fuck out, and I’d suggest you see a therapist to move past this. Good luck

by aixenprovence   2019-01-13

I have no idea. I'm sorry. It's a little unsettling that you should know so many men who don't understand how typical violence against women is. Maybe you just need a new crowd, haha.

If you find it refreshing that that someone recognizes that this kind of violence unfortunately does happen, you may find the book I mentioned to be particularly refreshing. If you feel a little overwhelmed, the book might help with that, too. (Or at least it may help put into words some thoughts you already have.)

by aixenprovence   2019-01-13

You may be interested in a book called The Gift of Fear . I would say that the author's main points are that

  • Our intuition evolved over millions of years and is quite good at protecting us in many circumstances, so when we train ourselves to ignore our intuition, we put ourselves in danger.

  • A feeling of fear is in many cases the most important flavor of intuition.

  • Rational fear is a gift, but irrational fear can be crippling, and education can help with that.

Part of the purpose of the book is to educate about danger. For example, when someone refuses to accept "no" as an answer, or they insist on providing unsolicited help in order to make another person feel obligation ("loan sharking"), those are warning signs.

Also, you mentioned:

> Double check my back who is walking in front and back of me, keep checking if someone is looking at me, think twice before getting on a public bus or cab.

Honestly, I think all of this is smart for you to do. I wish my wife were a little more thoughtful about her environment, as you seem to be.

by Daleth2   2018-11-10

Consult with an attorney. Also, get this book ASAP and read it all, especially the chapter on how to deal with stalkers:

by map_backwards   2018-11-10

The Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker

Overview (partial copy/pasta from amazon): In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker[...] shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger—before it's too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker[...] offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, to act when approached by a stranger...when you should fear someone close to you...what to do if you are being to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls...the biggest mistake you can make with a threatening person...and more. Learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life.

I am a female redditor so /u/Powerspawn, if you or the community rather I be a quiet observer for now feel free to remove the comment. However I do think this book is a wonderful tool for those working on their mental health. I grew up in a dysfunctional family situation (to put it nicely) and from a young age was taught to not only doubt myself, but to give unearned trust and respect to people in perceived positions of power. This book was a great supplement to a lot of the other work I've been doing to reclaim myself for me.

by averagePi   2018-11-10

Já leu The Gift of Fear? Fala sobre aqueles sinais que todos nós temos que indicam que tem "alguma coisa errada" em determinadas situações. É muito útil pra qualquer pessoa. Eu sei que tem em português mas não lembro o título.

by rhapsodyknit   2018-11-10

Is he on parole? You could call his parole officer and let them know about his stalkerish behaviour.

Also, please have her read The Gift of Fear . It talks about a lot of situations, including stalking, and how to help keep yourself safe.

by Daleth2   2018-11-10

> Don't ever tell him you intend to leave until you are leaving and do so with people there who can assist you in leaving.

YES. There are more tips in this book, but OP, I would recommend you only get an electronic copy of this book (Kindle or on your computer desktop or whatever), so that he doesn't see it:

That book is a godsend. It talks about protecting yourself from both stranger violence and intimate violence. A random woman I met at a party once confided that it had saved her life. It also helped a friend of mine plan her divorce from her abusive husband.